Editor: Reaching back in time, we produce the original article about the beginning of our ministry in Bassfield, Mississippi in 1936. The remarks of Fr. Bernard Reilly were startlingly poignant. In fact, in the true missionary spirit, the La Salette Missionaries did not take a stipend from this impoverished parish and its missions during our years of service in Bassfield.
On September 1, 1935, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette took charge of St. Peter's Church, Bassfield, Mississippi, in the Diocese of Natchez, at the kind invitation of the Most Reverend Bishop Richard Oliver Gerow, D.D. Reverend Bernard Reilly, M. S., a native of Waterbury, Connecticut, and formerly pastor of St. Patrick's Church, Lufkin, Texas, has been appointed pastor and director of the new foundation, with Reverend Francis Lundgren, M. S., of Bristol, Connecticut, as Assistant.
Bassfield, Missisippi, September 15, 1936.
In your last issue, you mentioned that the La Salette Fathers were taking charge of a new foundation at Bassfield, Mississippi. Lest you have any false impressions of this place, I would like to tell you a few experiences of our first days in Mississippi.
To begin with, I was rather skeptical of the sort of welcome we might receive when the people should find out that both Father Lundgren and I are Connecticut Yankees. The parish, you know, is in the heart of the old South – in Jefferson Davis County, suh (that is, “sir” in southern dialect)! I had half resolved to forget the land of my birth and simply tell the people I came from Texas.